Look who it is! It’s author David Louis Edelman with answers to your questions about his book, Infoquake. But, before I turn this blog over to him, I have a couple of important thoughts to share…
1. I don’t watch the show but all indications are the series finale of The Bachelor WAS “the most shocking rose ceremony ever”. Apparently the lovable doofus chose a woman, proposed and then, six weeks later, decided he had made a mistake, called the whole thing off, and decided to go with the runner-up after all. Oh, and he broke the news to his jilted “soon to be ex” while the cameras were rolling. Now I find this very shocking. I mean, he had a whole two weeks to weed through dozens of contestants, get to know them, fall in love, and, ultimately, choose the woman of his dreams. Fourteen days strikes me as plenty of time. If it had been me, I’d have been back from the honeymoon by Day #9.
2. Er. Um…. I guess that was it.
Oh, and today’s entry is dedicated to Green’s mom and Beauty the cat! Best wishes from our little blog community.
Over to David…
Thanks to all who read Infoquake, commented on it, and asked questions. Special thanks to those who had really nice things to say. And to the guy who called Infoquake “the best book he’d read since Joe Abercrombie,” I say… since Joe Abercrombie?! I’ll mop the floor with that two-bit hack! Reinventing the fantasy genre, my ass—– Er, uh, I mean, I’m honored to even be mentioned in the same sentence with such an accomplished novelist as Joe Abercrombie.
Since I’m a shameless self-promoter, I should mention that book 2 of the series, MultiReal, was released in July of 2008 by Pyr. It was named one of the top SF novels of 2008 by io9, SFFWorld, and Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, and called “a thoroughly successful hybrid of Neuromancer and Wall Street” by Hugo nominee Peter Watts. You can read the first eight chapters (or listen to the first five) up on the website at www.multireal.net.
I’m currently writing book 3, Geosynchron, and at the rate I’m going, I expect it to be finished somewhere around 2035. (But no, seriously, Pyr is currently planning to release it in early 2010.)
I’d also like to invite anyone who’s interested in the series to visit my website at www.davidlouisedelman.com and sign up for my once-every-couple-months email newsletter (scroll to the bottom of the page).
1Kathy H. writes: “The one person they were missing on the team was the Tech Writer. Who is documenting all of their new software products? Does this happen automatically? DocUSoft42c, perhaps?”
DLE: Having done some tech writing in the past, I should remind you that this is an optimistic vision of the future. No tech writing required!
But seriously… One of the technological advances I take as a given in the Jump 225 world is near-perfect natural language processing. So in one scene in Infoquake, Natch runs a program to parse a legal contract, and in another scene in MultiReal, Horvil runs a program that can analyze drudge postings to take a worldwide insta-poll. If you can create these kind of natural language applications, seems like conjuring up automatic documentation would be a piece o’ cake.
Thornyrose writes: “Mr. Edelman, how possible/probable do you see such a universe as depicted in Infoquake being? If you had the ability, what sort of capacities would you program OCHRES to do for yourself? What do you see as the biggest danger to such a level of technology ever evolving? Thank you very much for your participation in Mr. Mallozzi’s blog, and thanks to Mr. M. for making it possible.”
DLE: I’m sure some parts of the world I’ve created are possible. But not only is it impossible to predict the future with any degree of accuracy — there are simply too many variables, and too much revolves around luck — it’s really kind of pointless. There are a zillion possible futures out there, and which one we land on is largely a question of chance. So I won’t be too upset when the future doesn’t turn out like my books.
If I could run bio/logic software, I would definitely check out the Feminine Mystique 242.37a program mentioned in Infoquake. A man who understands that can rule the world.
There are a million dangers inherent in the concept of bio/logic software (as other folks have commented). Hacking and malfunctioning OCHRE bots are just a few. In fact, there are so many dangers that I eventually just “assumed” the Data Sea engineers had figured out a way to ensure near-perfect security. Which is probably the most far-fetched assumption in the books, but hey, I had to take shortcuts somewhere.
Anne Teldy writes: “Questions for Mr. Edelman:
1. Are you any relation to the great character actor Herb Edelman?
2. I understand office-type buildings “fighting for space” but what is the purpose of private apartments in residential areas collapsing at night while the occupants sleep?
3. What is the reasoning behind your decision to draw so much attention to Natch’s Jump by naming the trilogy Jump 225 yet you only refer to Natch Jumping once in two books?”
DLE: 1. No, nor am I related to Randy Edelman, Ric Edelman, Marian Wright Edelman, or the Edelman PR firm.
2. In a world of 60 billion people still littered with radioactive ruins, I’d imagine that space is pretty tight. If you mix residential and commercial space so that the commercial buildings collapse at night when people are at home, and residences collapse when people are asleep or away at work, seems like you could fit two or three times as many people in the same amount of space.
3. Natch’s Jump 225 dream sequence at the beginning of Infoquake sets up the main themes and metaphors for the entire series, not to mention the structure of the plot. It really encapsulates a lot of what I’m trying to say in the books. (Besides which, The Da Vinci Code was already taken.)
Fsmn36 writes: “Questions for David Louis Edelman:
1. I can see where the inspiration for the novel came from (your job, your work for the government), but was there anything specific that brought it about? What caused a software and marketing management person to start writing novels?
2. Any characters modeled after people you’ve known?
3. More of a comment than anything, but being from the “Twin Cities,” I enjoyed your liberal use of them throughout the book. I’ve been trying to decide what nature preserve Natch and his hivemates would have been at.lol”
DLE: 1. Better to ask why a creative writing and journalism major who had always aspired to write novels would take a 10-year detour into software and marketing management in the first place. (The answer being: $$$.)
2. The main trio of Natch, Horvil and Jara all share characteristics with lots of people I’ve worked with over the years, but there’s no one-to-one correspondence. I’ve worked for some unscrupulous people over the years, but never anybody as nasty as Natch.
3. Can you believe I’ve never actually been to the Twin Cities?
Sorrykb writes: “The ending also left me wondering about the potential consequences of the MultiReal technology, and whether something that allows a user to see the outcomes of each choice could in fact lead to a sort of societal paralysis, since the outcome of each choice leads you to another choice which leads to another series of possible outcomes… and so on. And might that cause everyone to stop making choices (although wouldn’t that in itself be a choice?) while they evaluated all possible outcomes?
Or I suppose the technology could just be used to make the game of baseball even more dull.”
DLE: You’re right that there are all kinds of possible hideous consequences that a program like MultiReal could cause. I explore a lot of the ethical, economic and sociological problems in book 2, MultiReal, but there’s really no way to cover them all.
Also keep in mind that new technology is never quite put to the uses we anticipate. I’m sure the engineers at DARPA who invented the Internet never imagined things like Second Life, Twitter, or Facebook. So too, I’m sure that a world with MultiReal would end up quite different than anyone in my books anticipates.
Iamza writes: “I’m not so sure I really understand MultiReal. As outlined by Margaret, it sounds kind of great–a chance to have things turn out exactly as you wanted. But what happens when the batter wants to hit a six and the bowler wants to get his tenth wicket for no runs (hah, take that, baseball analogies! Give me cricket any day of the week). Whose reality ultimately wins out — or do both batter and bowler split off into separate universes, each achieving their individual goal? For every individual who’s installed the MultiReal program, are there a zillion universes in which things go wrong, and only one in which everything is golden
DLE: Now you see the big dilemma with MultiReal technology. One of the main subplots in book 2 is how to resolve conflicts very much like you describe. Natch, Jara & Co. discover that there are a lot of broad sociological implications in how MultiReal resolves these conflicts. For instance: how do you charge customers for all those realities? Do you charge a flat fee, or do you charge for each alternate reality they pick? If you choose the latter, does that mean the rich would automatically win every argument?
(Admit it, you’re just making these funny cricket terms up. “The batter wants to hit a six”? “Getting his tenth wicket”? Surely you should not be using such language on a family blog like Mr. Mallozzi’s.)
Drldeboer writes: “Politically Incorrect Questions:
Was choosing an Indian as the world’s technological savior random or deliberate?
I can’t help but feel ironic about the Economic Plunge in relation to current real life and that it took government spending to end it. Having lots of Libertarian in the book was really great, do you personally prefer that over Democrat views? Or do you just have fun poking at them all? (I would.) Thanks!!
DLE: I definitely wanted to have the “world’s technological savior” come from an Eastern culture as opposed to a Western one. Human history seems to be full of spiritual/mystical Eastern discoveries turned mercantile by Western cultures, for better or worse. In my books, it’s no different.
Yes, it is fun to see the economics in the book suddenly become topical. Especially since I finished the first draft of all three books back in 2001 when Barack Obama was still doing restaurant reviews on cable access TV. (September 10, 2001, to be specific, but that’s another story.) Personally I hold lots of disparate political views, some libertarian, some liberal and even a few conservative. I’ve tried to present multiple sides of the economic and political issues fairly and without bias, since these aren’t meant to be overtly political books.
Sylvia writes: “Question for Mr. Edelman
1. What is your impulse or foundation for the Black Code? Where or what are you drawing from for that concept?
2. What was the impulse to end the first book seemingly so abruptly? Was this a natural “break?”
Thanks for joining to respond to our questions. Looking forward to the next 2 books in the trilogy.”
DLE: 1. Black code is a pretty thinly veiled version of today’s computer hacking, plain and simple.
2. Honestly, I’ve been a little baffled at all the criticism that Infoquake ends abruptly. I think people are mostly disappointed that it’s not meant to be a standalone book — it’s just the first third of one long story, like The Fellowship of the Ring. It seemed to me to be a good place for a break: Natch’s company has just had their first big triumph, Natch himself has just confronted his mortality for the first time, and Jara has suddenly realized that she might not be the weak-minded fool she always thought. But if you disliked the ending of Infoquake, it’s only fair to warn you that MultiReal has something of a cliffhanger ending, and Geosynchron is going to have a very unconventional ending as well.
(Sylvia also asked the question of how private ConfidentialWhispers are. Since communications in the Jump 225 world are based on a technology called “subaether” — and because subaether is supposedly built on quantum entanglement — I assume that these communications are pretty rock-solid in their security.)
Mix-Martex86 writes: “Oh, and, even though I haven’t read the book yet, I have two questions for the author:
– Being a web programmer, did you get your inspiration in a specific field of the business you do stuff for (like say, health-care apps, management, or whatever you work at), or it did come to you just out of the general rhythm of the software business?
– And, do you base your depiction exclusively on the work done by the “field soldiers” (jr/sr. programmers), the “officers” (analysts and higher), or the “NCOs” (don’t know if that exists outside of Spain, here we call them Analyst-Programmers or APs)?”
DLE: I’ve done work here and there in a number of different fields — government, e-commerce, nonprofits, law firms, large corporations, etc. One of the things that I’ve noticed flitting through all these different places is that work is work, no matter where you are. Office politics seem to be remarkably consistent across all of the fields I’ve dabbled in.
I tried to make the programming work of my characters pretty generic. I wanted anyone who’s worked in high-tech to be able to identify with their situation, whether junior, senior or executive. But I think you’d especially appreciate their situation if you’ve ever been in a small high-tech start-up trying to run a business on the cheap.
Airelle writes: “Infoquake- I enjoyed this book. I was never real fond of book reports in school, I love to read though. The ending, so sudden> was not prepared for it. but am at present looking for the next one in the series so your ploy worked.
How did the ex utero work? In Lora’s case she mentioned having actual sex in younger days and no mention of pregnancy, did OCHRES control that also, and the father of Natch, not so sure it was Vigal, but it could have been someone else?
Would darts be the only way to get black code? and why not a program to stop a black code invasion?(virus protection?)
-What if you didn’t want to have bio/logic, (not sure why you wouldn’t) would they have been sent to the live with the Islanders? or some planet to fall from space? I really did like the book, was hard to put it down once I started.
-thanks for your time Mr Edelman. and thanks Joe for the book ideas, keep ‘em coming. I am thinking of having a bake sale to be able to buy more books, if I just didn’t eat all the goodies b4 the sale.”
DLE: I’ve never entirely decided how ex utero pregnancy works, besides the fact that it involves “babies grown in vats.” In MultiReal, I mention that OCHREs have made accidental pregnancy a thing of the past. Which also means that sex is completely divorced from procreation. I’m hoping to have some further explanation in Geosynchron about ex utero pregnancy, because there’s a small part of the book that depends on it.
Darts are not the only way to get black code; they’re just the cheapest and most effective. I presume that people’s OCHRE systems do constantly run black code protection programs. There’s probably a constant battle going on between the black code writers and the OCHRE programmers, just like there is today with virus writers and anti-virus software programmers.
There are three main “unconnectible” (bio/logics-free) cultures in the book: the Islanders, the Pharisees, and the diss. You’ll see more about the diss in MultiReal, and my characters will actually go to the Islands for several chapters in Geosynchron and spend some time with a Pharisee character.
GateFanSamJack writes: “Questions for DLE:
By transitioning from the end of the Shortest Initiation into Natch’s study of how humanity has been tinkering with the bandwidth of the brain stem, were you implying that Natch’s impulsive decision with the bear may have been influenced by altered physiology?
A couple of times, characters express that they consider the influx of loans into the markets by government interests to have been the reason for the economic recovery. Is that the reason or are we meant to only know that the characters express it as the reason?”
DLE: I don’t know that I was implying any direct correlation between neural technology and Natch’s mental state at that point in the book. But it certainly is an open question as to how much bio/logics would affect people’s emotions and capacity to reason. I made a very conscious decision early on in the writing process that I wasn’t going to give the people of the future a radically different psychology than our own. It was just too much to try to get the reader to identify with characters in “posthuman” emotional states, on top of everything else that’s going on. So my characters may fire up AngerBeGone 57d or Prozac 109q or whatever from time to time, but really they don’t act significantly different than a regular ol’ character from 2009 would.
There’s definitely room for interpretation as to whether Len Borda’s government subsidies really fixed the Economic Plunge or not. Hell, economists are still arguing whether Roosevelt’s New Deal actually helped the U.S. economy or just prolonged the Great Depression. But if you read MultiReal, you’ll see some more insight about Borda’s role in causing and fixing the Economic Plunge.
AMZ writes: “Questions for David Louis Edelman…
What process, if any, did you go through to create the world/reality in Infoquake?
Do you have a favourite character?
I really liked the idea of multi link and I thought it was interesting that teleportation was mentioned but not really used because of the expense. Can we expect to see more glitches/complications with multi link technology (like the “infoquake”) in the trilogy?
The inclusion of appendices has sparked a bit of discussion and I’m wondering how you approach appendices as a reader. Do you read the appendices as you start, while you’re reading or at the end of a story? Or does it depend on the book?”
DLE: I can sum up my process in three words: Magic Eight Ball.
My favorite character? It depends on who I’m writing at the moment. Natch, Jara and Horvil all seem to fight for my affections. If pressed, I’d have to say Jara, but it’s a close one. (On a related note, I find it very interesting that so many people choose Quell as their favorite. In book 2, you get to see him opening up a can of whoop-ass with an electric shock baton.)
I can’t think of any place offhand in the rest of the trilogy where glitches in the multi network play a big role, unfortunately. The characters pretty much assume that multi technology is rock solid.
I usually wait to read the appendices until the end. But I know of a number of people who preferred to read the appendices for Infoquake first. My editor told me that he actually read the appendices first.
Sparrow_hawk writes: “Questions:
Most of my questions have already been asked by others. But I am curious about the quote: “Hack the body and the mind will follow.” What is it supposed to mean? Does it refer to the pervasive nanobots or the insidious “Black Code” currently residing in Natch or something else entirely? Can you explain or do I just need to read the next book?”
DLE: The inference of the quote is that you can’t separate “hacking” of the body from “hacking” of the mind — one affects the other. As Serr Vigal explains in his little lecture to Natch about the importance of the brainstem, mind and body are fundamentally interconnected, and not even bio/logics can totally change that.
drldeboer writes: “I thought of him this way- Natch is to programming what Gene Simmons is to music.”
DLE: Pardon me, my head just exploded.
Sheryl writes: “Any chance you could get him to do an update on his new endevors? Maybe an interview?”
Answer: Alas, I’m not in touch with Ben. However, in the event our paths cross in the not too distant future, I’ll certainly make it a point to ask him.
GateFanSamJack writes: “Is this the kino you’re talking about? http://dating.about.com/od/glossarywordsijk/g/kino.htm”
Answer: Uh, no.
Melissa’s Cozy Teacup writes: “I would think that you are well known enough to self publish, and successfully market, anything you write. Why not give it a try?”
Answer: At the end of the day, I’m not writing this short story for the money. Rather than self-publish, I’d prefer to just make it available online.
Ponytail writes: “Joe, I just have to ask you because you have not been asked. Tell the truth. Did you (or your office) send Anne Teldy the “Major Teldy” Teddy Bear?”
Answer: Alas, I did not.
Lolli writes: ” Do you know of any resturants in the Vancouver area that serve ‘deep fried chocolate bars’?”
Answer: Why, yes. A place called Wing Nuts, 4444 Main Street, does both a deep-fried Mars Bar and Snickers Bar.
Kabra writes: “Any chance of Claudia Black, Ben Browder, Joe Flanigan or Michael Shanks doing a Q&A??? Has RDA done on yet???”
Answer: I promise to harrass Michael about doing a Q&A when I see him. No, Rick hasn’t done one yet but he doesn’t strike me as the Q&A type – more of the informal off-the-cuff type. Would love to do one with Claudia but I don’t know when our paths will cross again.
Major D. Davis writes: “I was wondering could you make the primary weapon for Young and Scott a G36?”
Answer: Your request has been duly noted.
Dasndanger writes: “Joe – birthday individual Belouchi? You having the same problem I had when – after several e-mail exchanges – I finally broke down and asked Perragrin if she was a he or a she?? She’s a she.”
Answer: Yep. Made an erroneous assumption once and have been erring on the side of caution ever since.
Nathaniel writes: “Will you be doing anything special during the creation con next month?”
Answer: Hopefully, still working on Stargate: Universe.
Ganymede writes: ” So, Folks… Did *anyone* happen to notice that “Life Imitating Art” brush with extinction that happened at 9am [EST] today…? I’m referring to the missed-us-by-this-WTF-much [63,000k] hunk of celestial gravel that was only discovered on FRIDAY!! ”
Answer: As I told Carl and Paul yesterday, asteroid strikes are my biggest fear. I figure that if I can just avoid being wiped out by one of those, chances are I’ll probably never die.
Quade1 writes: “Joe will the outside of the Destiny be kept a secret, seeing as they are on the ship and it won’t be visible from planets they visit.”
Answer: Nope, it won’t be kept a secret. As a matter of fact, the fans will get a sneek peek at the ship, its crew, and the show in March…
Fran writes: “How is Lulu feeling? She feeling any better?”
Answer: Lulu has a very sensitive stomach that is easily upset. This morning, for instance, she just parked herself in front of her food bowl and sat there while the pugs crowded around, waiting for her to leave so that they could help themselves. Finally, I ended up having to sit on the floor to hand-feed her. Fussy she is.
Tess writes: “I just had to comment on the fact that 1, martin wood is back in the directing chair, that is majorly AWESOME, i love him.”
Answer: If you mean back in the directing chair on Sanctuary then, yes, that is correct.
Crayonbaby writes: “Are we going to see some of the directors from Atlantis episodes show up directing Universe? I’m hoping that Rob Cooper decides to direct one of the episodes this season.”
Answer: Some familiar faces and some new faces writing and directing this season.
DasNdanger writes: “Do you have a home library – a room just for you and your books – set up?”
Answer: I do have a home library, but most of my SF/Fantasy/Horror library is at the office.
BlueJay writes: “Joe, who has the atlantis script at the moment and what are they doing with it?”
Answer: Paul printed up the outline the other day and it now sits on my desk. All 22 pages of it.
Sandygood writes: “Any idea when the DVD for Atlantis Season 5 will be out?”
Answer: Sorry, no idea. And nice to see you back with us.
duneknight writes: “Joe, you say mythology but that doesnt mean anything when you put the main characters in a different galaxy or whatever.”
Answer: Sure it does. Everything about the ship and the gate system is rooted in established mythology.
drldeboer writes: “My fave series of his is F Word, I think Gordon acted most natural there, with his family and all.”
Answer: I wholeheartedly agree. I love the show. In fact, I believe the second season is coming out on DVD in a couple of weeks.
Edgarderby writes: ” Joe, do characters merely exist to further the plot or do characters themselves create the plot? Is it too much to ask that fictional people still remain masters of their own destiny? Or is the story important enough that people who could contribute more fall to the wayside?”
Answer: I think that successful shows strike a proper balance between engaging characters and interesting storylines. Both should drive a series. Some episodes may be more character-driven while others may be more plot-driven, but at the end of the day you really need both to tell a good story.
Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “With regard to Curb Your Enthusiasm…. is it just me or does anyone else think of Carl Binder when you watch it?”
Answer: Carl gets that ALL the time.